Cosmos: κόσμος (Ancient Greek) from earlier ḱónsmos, from Proto-Indo-European ḱens- or ḱems- (‘to put in order, good order, government, world order, the Universe’); related to Latin cēnseō (‘to estimate’) and Sanskrit शंसति (‘to commend, praise’)
Cosmos, or A Chronicle of Life’s Incredible Order, Complexity, and Remarkable Struggle Against Entropy and Resistance of Decay
Single-channel high-definition digital video
5 hours (looped), 16:9, black and white, sound
Edition of 6 + 2 AP
A five-hour abstract moving landscape painstakingly created frame-by-frame to depict Life, the Universe and Everything. The aim was to be as scientifically accurate as possible yet visually compelling in the interest of underscoring the interconnectedness and interdependence of all living things. Humans have always been captivated by the Cosmos and humanity’s place within it, so have sought to understand and explain it through various historical, cultural, religious, philosophical, and scientific perspectives. This is what really fascinates me, as these perspectives can be boiled down to two metaphysical questions: What is there? And what is it like? For me, this is the beautiful connecting space between science, philosophy, and art. To convey this, the video attempts to document as many ethnicities, heritages, customs, cultures, religions, foods, traditions, histories, races, and nationalities as possible. Ever since I was a child, I dreamed about a book detailing the entire history of the Cosmos—everything from the Big Bang to the beginning of energy (matter), spacetime, and the first picosecond of cosmic time, to the formation of the Earth and history of life on Earth, including all the ancient civilisations. So, I (stupidly) decided to try and visually create it. However, more than anything, the project is the story of life. That is because according to the second law of thermodynamics, the Universe works to maximise entropy (disorder), yet inside cells there’s incredible order and complexity. Nonetheless, life isn’t a thing that living things have; rather, life is what living things do. Life began the moment molecules of information started to reproduce and evolve. DNA learns in a sense because it accumulates information through random errors, but it is slow, so, DNA created a faster way of learning—complex creatures with brains. These organisms learn in real time and accumulate information. Yet, when they die, the information dies with them. What makes humans so exquisite is language—a system of communication allowing us to assemble information in collective memory. It outlasts individuals and grows and evolves from generation to generation. This is the reason we as a species are so creative – everything from creating scientific marvels like Hubble Ultra Deep Field, to artistic expression, or philosophical contemplation and introspection. Today, this language is mediated by the pixel. Cosmos, or A Chronicle of Life’s Incredible Order, Complexity, and Remarkable Struggle Against Entropy and Resistance of Decay is an ode to the pixel. A dance. A love song. I wanted to make the images sway, move, flex, and be malleable and unbounded. While there are oodles of exciting moments and a thousand firsts—everything from the first neutral atoms in the Universe, to the first declaration of human rights, the first female U.S. senator, or the first successful sex reassignment surgery—I couldn’t document the chronicle of human life without also documenting horrific things, such as war, genocide, colonisation, sexism, racism, and homophobia, as they have all occurred throughout the history of humankind.
* To ensure my visual representation of the Cosmos was as accurate as possible, I spent the first few months writing a timeline of key moments in the history of the Cosmos (a 150,000-word document).